South Coast Sea Changers Driving Prices Upwards

South Coast Sea Changers Driving Prices Upwards

The South Coast property market sat dormant for years after the global financial crisis. But now prices in the Shoalhaven area near Nowra and the pristine waters of Jervis Bay are growing faster than Sydney.

All of sudden, families and seachangers? who can’t afford the city or coastal areas to the north are heading there in droves, pushing up values.

Whereas it used to often take six weeks and often far longer, agents say buyers are fighting over homes and they’re selling in days for prices far higher than expected.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” says Ray White agent Vanessa Middleton, who has lived in the Callala Bay area for 21 years, selling property there in the past decade.

“I thought it would quieten down before the election and winter, but so many people want to live in this area now.”

Buyers are attracted to the relative affordability close to the beach: despite recent price growth, four-bedroom family homes are still available for under $500,000 – half Sydney’s median. She says buyers are coming from all parts of Sydney, from Bondi to Blacktown.

Middleton points to the recent sale of a house opposite the beach on waterfront reserve at 20 Greenway Road, Callala Beach. Listed at $865,000, it went for $872,000. “It had buyers fighting over it,” she says. It had previously sold for $730,000 four years ago.

Domain Group chief economist Dr Andrew Wilson confirms that South Coast property is on the rise, with the Shoalhaven district (which includes Callala Bay and Callala Beach) recording a 17.7 per cent rise over the year to June – double Byron Bay’s growth and even Sydney’s over the same period.

For the six years between 2007 and 2013, Shoalhaven prices had risen just 1 per cent a year. Since 2013, they’ve jumped 38 per cent – 6.9 per cent in just the past quarter. “It’s now growing faster than Sydney,” Dr Wilson said.

Dr Wilson says after 50 per cent growth in Sydney house prices in just three years and booming prices in northern hot spots like Byron Bay, the south coast looks like a bargain. “There’s good value there,” he says.

While Shoalhaven had the highest annual growth, Wollongong prices grew 13.6 per cent. That compares with Byron’s 9.6 per cent, after considerably higher growth in recent years.

Agents such as Carrie Bond of South Coast Prestige Properties confirms homes are often selling on the first day of the open house, with a flood of Sydneysiders looking. “They’re heading south and finding they can get a lot more for their money,” she says.

“If something comes on the market in the lower price range, it’s gone quickly.”

Dr Wilson attributes Wollongong’s booming market – it now has a median house price above $600,000 – to home-hunters attracted by its lifestyle benefits and more affordable housing. Many commute to Sydney for work. “Buyers have been priced out of the Sydney market,” he says. “Wollongong has become a suburb of Sydney … it takes less time to get in to Sydney from Wollongong than it does from Penrith.”

Knight Frank Research says the Wollongong region had the second-highest capital growth in Australia with a 15 per cent annual change over the first quarter of the year, compared with the first quarter a year before.

Wollongong was behind the Blue Mountains, which had 17.8 per cent growth, but ahead of the Central Coast’s 13.6 per cent. “The residential market in Wollongong responds to heated property prices in Sydney, offering reasonable proximity to Sydney by road and rail, whilst offering a coastal lifestyle,” said Knight Frank’s director of residential research, Michelle Ciesielski.

Credit: Domain

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